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Emergency Department: From a Nurse's Perspective

Besides being awesome, we see and do some pretty crazy things in the emergency room.

And not coincidentally, when someone finds out that I am an ER nurse, they always say, “I bet you’ve seen some really crazy things.”


But that is not all my day consists of. Mostly, I am running around managing multiple patients with a sharp eye on picking out life-threatening conditions. Many nurses will tell you that they did not like the ER; it’s hectic, very fast paced, and nerve-racking… But it is also exciting, more autonomous, and builds confidence. Not every day will be excitement, not every day will be heroics, and yes, I will admit, that sometimes I feel like my job is putting out the fires closest to my feet.

But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Wanna know if you have what it takes to be an emergency room nurse? Let me show you what a typical day in the life of an ER nurse is like.

Clocking in and starting your day with huddle. In the ER, we have new people coming onto shift every 4 hours. You have many different opportunities for which time you’d like your shift to be. You can work 3 twelve hour shifts a week, 2 twelves and 2 eights, 5 eights, and you can come in all around the clock.

Once you have clocked in, you will have huddle where the charge nurse and managers hand out assignments and cover the current state of the department. This typically includes how many patients are suicidal, restrained, critically ill, and what is happening in the resuscitation bays.

During the last hour of my shift, I go into beast mode. I make sure all my vital signs are up to date within an hour of when the new nurses shift will start, I update a plan of care note, I make sure all testing that I can control has been accomplished and I pack up my workstation.

- Carol, RN, Southern California Hospital at Culver City